By Tony Dewhurst
The Chairman of The Professional Footballer's Association Clarke Carlisle says that The Football League Trust Community programme has helped change the image of the game.
It is 25 years since the original community scheme was launched at five clubs - Manchester City, Preston North End, Bolton Wanderers, Oldham Athletic and Bury - before being successfully extended nationwide to the then 92 clubs.
"Through their clear goals and hard work, The Football League Trust has achieved great things," said Carlisle.
"The disasters and the terrible loss of life at The Heysel Stadium, the Bradford Fire and Hillsborough in the 1980s had a huge impact on the public perception of football.
"Hooliganism was rife, it was destroying the game and the whole of football was suffering - we had to act.
"We needed to create an environment that was conducive for parents to take their children in safety to football again and we've seen dramatic change since those dark days - highlighting the power of football in the community.
"In the 1980s, football club community events were more about tea dances and bingo, not the major community schemes we see today that connect so well with people young and old.
"There is now a great synergy between our members [at the PFA] and The Football League Trust, and in 2012 that partnership is stronger than ever."
Meanwhile, Carlisle has vowed to do all he can to raise awareness of the need for more research into children's brain tumours after becoming the patron of the Katy Holmes Trust.
Carlisle met 10-year-old Katy Holmes on a Football League Trust Community visit to Derian House Children's Hospice whilst he was playing with Preston North End last season.
Clarke, who is a father of three, was devastated when Katy died from her illness in January and said: "I would never have met Katy if it wasn't for that community visit when I was at Deepdale, and it was a great example of community work in action and the power of football to do good."
He added: "Meeting Katy was a very emotional moment for me and because I've got children myself, seeing that determination in Katy really touched me and her cause is very dear to my heart.
"After meeting Katy and her family, it just really hit home how blessed I am to have a healthy family and I wanted to do all I could to help."
Katy's mother Paula Holmes said: "We are honoured and so proud that Clarke Carlisle is our patron.
"No one deserves it more as Clarke met Katy and he was so lovely with her and spent time chatting to her and actually listened to what she had to say.
"Clarke has been so encouraging and supportive about our work and with his help, we can achieve even more."